There are a lot of things to say about grief, and I had a much longer post planned for today. But words fail me on this. And as a person whose only outlet is words (as opposed to work, socializing, or physical activity), this is particularly frustrating. Here’s what I know, eleven weeks into this process:
Grief is not what you expect. Mom was one of my best friends. I talked to her every day. I helped take care of her for the last two years. I can’t imagine anything that could have improved our relationship, with the exception of better health that would have allowed us to do more things together. I could not see past the moment of her death. How could the world keep going, how could I exist, once she was gone? But the world is going and I exist, and this surprises me every day.
Grief is physical. I don’t mean in the stab-in-the-gut way when I miss her, although that happens too. I mean that I have not physically recovered from this loss. Mom died eleven weeks ago, and I am not back to Normal Shitty Baseline.* I am on the verge of crashing every day. I am not thinking clearly. My temper is short. I have trouble completing tasks and my memory is shot. I’m having trouble separating what is disease process and what is grief process. Even at Normal Shitty Baseline I have days when I can’t get out of bed or cook dinner or a thousand other basic things. What is normal in grief, when your normal is already shitty?
Acting normal is expensive. I look and sound normal (normal for me, anyway), but at great cost. Yes, I’ve been writing blog posts. But you don’t see how difficult it is, how writing these posts takes every bit of energy I have, and more. I’m running on the fumes of my fumes, at this point. Every single email I answer, ever document I read, every paragraph I write – it takes so much more effort and determination than before. I don’t usually talk about how hard it is for me to participate in advocacy, and I’m not even showing you the full cost now. The best analogy is that it feels like I’m hooked up to multiple IV lines, but the energy is running out rather than saline running in.
I’ve discussed all this with my doctors, and been reassured that this is “normal grief.” I am lucky that I have no regrets, and I don’t mind paying the price of grief for the happiness of my relationship with Mom. We have a close family, and everyone is supporting each other. I’m just trying to stay in the moment, ride the waves of emotions and be gentle with myself.
*”Normal Shitty Baseline” was coined by Trina Berne, and it’s the best description ever.